To many people, Larry Fitzgerald is just a football player. He clocks in and he clocks out, just like millions upon millions of people around the world, doing his job to the best of his abilities in the process. Others, however, would choose to describe him using a range of different adjectives – such as legend, hero or icon. But in the context of success, how far are those kind of ‘accolades’ going to take him?
If you buy into what the media spurts out on a daily basis, then you’ll probably believe that professional athletes put themselves on a pedestal much higher than ours. They earn extraordinary amounts of money for playing a game that, in the minds of many, doesn’t actually matter all too much in the grand scheme of life.
But every so often you come across someone like Larry Fitzgerald who goes above and beyond the call of duty to stay true to himself. Regardless of how many cheques the guy has received over the years or how much bigger his bathroom is than your entire house, Fitz puts his heart and soul into everything that he does whether that be on a football field or off of it.
Case and point – his phenomenal charity work, his many awards for humanitarian-based purposes and his general leadership roles through giving back to the community. To him, there’s always more than can be done in order to further the quality of life for those surrounding him in addition to men, women and children.
But if we step away from all of that and focus solely on what happens in the gridiron, the script is pretty much the same. Ever since debuting in the National Football League following a successful college career with the University of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald has been taking names and breaking records for fun – and he rarely seems to break a sweat.
Reading through Larry’s list of achievements would take us longer than we care to admit, so let’s focus on the highlight reel here. Seven seasons with 90+ receptions, third all-time in career receptions, most receiving yards in Cardinals history and a ten-time Pro Bowler. Now, you can paint any kind of picture you want when it comes to legendary wide receivers in the NFL, but if you aren’t including Fitz in that class then you’re fooling yourself.
So let’s rip the band aid right off – why doesn’t he have a ring? After all, 13 years in the pros without a championship under your belt would indicate that there’s been some kind of long standing issue along the way that’s prevented success. In Fitzgerald’s case, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Arizona Cardinals as a franchise have the longest title drought across all four major American sports leagues following the Chicago Cubs’ World Series triumph. It’s a damning statistic and one that would probably get you thrown out of a few bars in the southwestern state, but unfortunately for Card fans it’s an everlasting truth.
For Fitz, though, it drives him towards being the best player that he can possibly be and as a result he’s stuck with the Cardinals through thick and thin despite the numerous reports linking him with a move away. His unyielding dedication to the cause of bringing a championship to Arizona has left him with a legendary status within the game, but there’s no denying that there have been better opportunities for him elsewhere.
It’s a known fact that the New England Patriots have come calling on a number of different occasions – you know, the same Patriots that won their fifth Super Bowl since the beginning of the Brady/Belichick era last month. To some it’d be seen as selling your soul to the devil if he were to make the switch, but when you look at the bigger picture why wouldn’t a top level player want to ride off into the sunset with a ring on his finger?
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We all know that Larry deserves it, but in sport that doesn’t always equate to a fairytale ending. For example, on February 1st 2009, Fitzergald raced away from the Steelers defence and scored what he believed to be the Super Bowl-winning touchdown for the Arizona Cardinals. But as we all know, Big Ben had other ideas that night.
At the end of the day success is defined by the person who seeks it, however we can safely say that you’ve paid your dues at the UOP Stadium Larry. The clock is ticking and if you want to reach for that mountain top one more time, nobody is going to stop you.